Saudi Arabia: Can women become muftis?

Khaleej Times
A debate is opening up in Saudi Arabia as to whether or not women can become muftis, following a recent announcement made by the Grand Mufti of Syria Sheikh Ahmad Badr Al Din Hassoun.
Some Saudi scholars have recommended such a move, others agree but prefer this with restrictions to issuing fatwas (religious edicts) only for women. While some others don’t approve it at all.
Hassoun has said he is personally supervising a project that would make women ready to become muftis soon in Syria.

According to him, tens of women of varying ages, who graduated from Islamic law school, are now enrolling in different courses that would help them issue fatwas in matter relating to women. Women who become ‘muftiya, can also be members of the Iftaa Board.

Syrian women scholars welcomed the announcement and Huda Habsh, a Syrian scholar who spoke to an Arabic online news agency, said that this is a ‘positive’ move.

According to her, this would help women be more open to speak about their issues, matters and problems clearly and without embarrassment, and “the woman can issue fatwas on everything regarding women, such as marriage relationships and home related (issues)”.

According to Sheikh Abdul Mohsin Al Obaikan a member of the Saudi Shoura Council and a consultant at the ministry of justice, women would speak openly and freely if the mufti is a woman.

“She knows the conditions of women and what they want exactly therefore a woman mufti is more suitable for women,” Al Obaikan said, and added that he has previously called for recruiting women muftis who would take care of the women issues.

3 August 2008

Source: Khaleej Times